To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee
Kyodo World Services, senior sports


ASHIKAGA, Tochigi (April 6) - World champion Saori Yoshida grabbed an early five-point lead and held on for an 8-3 triumph over archrival Seiko Yamamoto at the Japan Queens Cup women's wrestling competition. Yoshida dropped Yamamoto with a three-point double-leg takedown to open the 55-kg final at Ashikaga Municipal Gymnasium and then added a quick two-point exposure with a half nelson for a 5-0 lead less than 60 seconds into the match.

  Yamamoto attempted to battle back, but could not make up the difference as the former three-time world champion was saddled with her fifth straight loss to Yoshida, dating back to last year's Queens Cup meet.

  "I was a little nervous before the final, but I was able to wrestle my style of match," said Yoshida, who was FILA's female wrestler of the year in 2002. "I wasn't trying for a three-point move at the beginning, but used some upper-body strength to carry her over when I got in near the out-of-bounds line,"Yoshida said. "My physical training has been effective and I feel I can overpower any opponent now."

  For Yamamoto, the loss was a disappointment after her successful tour of Europe in March. I didn't get going in the final. There was nothing I can say."

  It was also a tough day for Yamamoto's elder sister Miyu, also a three-time former world champion, who fell in the finals to national champion Makiko Sakamoto. The elder Yamamoto took an early 2-0 lead in the championship at 48 kg, but could not get the required third point against Sakamoto, who scored a takedown just before the end of regulation.

  In the clinch, Yamamoto gave up another point with a failed throw and Sakamoto countered a takedown attempt for the third and final point at 7:00. "I thought I could do it after I scored a couple takedowns,"Yamamoto said after final. 的 didn稚 intend to let my matches come down to the clinch, so I didn't practice that. From now on, I will practice it properly."

  "As the national champion, I felt like I shouldn't lose here,・said the 17-year-old Sakamoto. "I knew if I gave up a point in the clinch that the match was over, so I was determined as ever not to go over. I won with my stamina."

  Sakamoto's own sibling, Hitomi, made it back-to-back titles for the Aomori sisters as she dominated world silver medalist Chiharu Icho 5-1 for the 51-kg crown.

  Also, Kyoko Hamaguchi wrapped up three challengers in less than two minutes total time for the 72-kg crown while reigning world champion Kaori Icho turned away 1999 world titlist Ayako Shoda with an 8-4 decision for the hardware at 63 kg.

  At 59 kg, Rena Iwama took a hard-fought 4-1 decision from Mariko Shimizu for the title in a battle of veterans of international competition.

Championship bracket results:

48 kg (18 entries)

Championship final
Makiko Sakamoto def. Miyu Yamamoto 3-2, 7:00

Third-place final
Miyuki Hiraoka def. Mika Noguchi by injury default

Miyu Yamamoto def. Mika Noguchi by injury default (5:22, 3-1)
Makiko Sakamoto def. Miyuki Hiraoka 8-3

Mika Noguchi def. Momoko Sera 3-1
Miyu Yamamoto def. Yuri Funatsu by fall, 0:34 (3-0)

51 kg (13 entries)

Championship final
Hitomi Sakamoto def. Chiharu Icho 5-1

Third-place final
Yu Sekine def. Madoka Shimokawa by fall, 1:06 (8-3)

Chiharu Ichjo def. Madoka Shimokawa by tech. sup. 10-0, 1:32
Hitomi Sakamoto def. Yu Sekine by tech. sup. 12-2, 3:24

55 kg (8 entries)

Championship final
Saori Yoshida def. Seiko Yamamoto 8-3

Third-place final
Chikako Matsukawa def. Mari Fukuzawa by injury default

59 kg (8 entries)

Championship final
Rena Iwama def. Mariko Shimizu 4-1

Third-place final
Ayako Suga def. Kei Yamana 8-5

63 kg (12 entries)

Championship final
Kaori Icho def. Ayako Shoda 8-4

Third-place final
Mimi Suga def. Saki Kanazawa 13-6

Kaori Icho def. Saki Kanazawa
Ayako Shoda def. Mimi Suga

67 kg (4 entries, round robin)

1. Norie Saito, 2. Eri Sakamoto, 3. Miki Ninomiya, 4. Maki Tsukamoto

Championship final・
Norie Saito def. Eri Sakamoto 4-3

72 kg (4 entries)

1. Kyoko Hamaguchi, 2. Ayako Murashima, 3. Takako Matsui, 4. Miwako

Championship final・
Kyoko Hamaguchi def. Ayako Murashima by fall, 1:15 (6-0)